0222 GMT August 04, 2020
Iran supplied 1.5 million barrels of fuel to Venezuela last month amid a collapse of refinery operations and tightening sanctions by the United States that has made it more difficult for Venezuela to obtain fuel on international markets.
The Iranian-flagged general cargo ship Golsan, owned by Mosakhar Darya Shipping Co., reportedly departed on May 15 from Bandar Abbas. It is destined for the port of La Guaira in the northern Venezuelan state of Vargas.
Five tankers left for the Caribbean from the same port in March after loading fuel.
“The Golsan will arrive carrying food to open the first Iranian supermarket in Venezuela,” the Iranian Embassy wrote on Saturday via its Twitter account. It did not provide details.
The Iranian-flagged freighter Golsan’s journey signals a blossoming relationship between the two nations in defiance of stiff financial sanctions by the administration of US President Donald Trump against each of them.
Iran is expected to dispatch two to three monthly shipments of gasoline to its ally Venezuela, sources close to the matter told Reuters, which would help offload the gasoline inventory that Iran accumulates, while helping alleviate the fuel shortage in Venezuela.
Shortly after the Islamic Republic began shipping the fuel supplies to Venezuela, the United States said it would consider taking action to stop the development. Tehran responded by warning Washington about retaliation.
The Venezuelan armed forces, including fighter jets and helicopter gunships, began escorting the Iranian tankers right after their arrival within Venezuela’s jurisdiction.
The government of President Nicolas Maduro has highlighted cooperation agreements reached with Iran as an effort to tackle the negative effects of the ongoing US economic restrictions. In line with Maduro's stance, Venezuelan officials have also stressed the importance of the Iranian contribution.
Reuters, AP, and Press TV contributed to this story.